BLOG: ICYMI: Department of Human Services Recognized for Push to Improve Customer Service

By: Ted Dallas, Secretary of Human Services

March 22, 2016

Since my first day as secretary of the Department of Human Services, I have been proud of the hard work demonstrated by DHS employees. Our staff is dedicated to working everyday to improve customer service across the commonwealth.

I’m thrilled to report that our efforts have led to great progress — and these efforts have not gone unnoticed.

In case you missed it, last Thursday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Board recognized the hard work that DHS employees have been putting in to improve previous customer service shortfalls in an editorial entitled, “Call waiting: A key state agency reforms customer service.”

Indeed, at the Department of Human Services, one of our top priorities is customer service. This is at the heart of everything we do at DHS. Every employee works hard to improve how we deliver critical services to millions of Pennsylvanians and the folks who care for them.

As the Post-Gazette wrote:

“Little things count. Something as simple as answering phone calls promptly can make a big difference in the ability of a big organization to deal appropriately with its customers and clients.”

We provide services to nearly one out of every four Pennsylvanians – and our expectations on bettering your experience with us are in the forefront of our minds every day.

In January 2015, our customer call center experienced a dramatic increase in call volume and wait time, and a decrease in answer rate due to the implementation of a complicated health care plan. In order to address this issue and improve the experience to our clients, the Wolf Administration:

  • Expanded traditional Medicaid – removing complicated health screenings and simplifying the program.
  • Set new goals and expectations, as well as and increased communication to DHS employees.
  • Identified inefficiencies and modified queue management accordingly.

I am proud to say, that as of November 2015, we were at a 93.2% answer rate – a massive improvement from January 2015’s 44.6% rate. Our average wait time for each of those calls has decreased from nearly 10 ½ minutes to just under one minute!

We won’t stop there, but it’s a great start. None of this would have happened without the hard work of DHS staffers. I’m excited to see what we will achieve next as we work on achieving our priorities.

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